292-293: Ostuni, Locorotondo and Truilli

292 – Saturday 6th February 2016: ‘ostelry in Ostuni

Despite the lack of visible appeal, the car park was really quiet and non-windy.  K has been using Maps.Me to plot running routes of roughly the distance we want.  Mostly this has gone to plan, but not today.  Despite the scribbled on Post-It-Note with the twists and turns, in case she forgot the way, we missed a turn and out-ran the planned route.  Maps.Me (Mini Madge on J’s phone) with a breather to get back to Chardonnay.  So the planned 4 km became 5.5 for km and 6.5 for J – he has to keep doubling back to check I’m still staggering.  

We stopped on the outskirts of Lecce at a massive retail heaven.  Bought another external hard drive for the TimeMachine back up and a funky bright green 12 volt cigarette to USB as we keep having to hunt for one – always still attached to whatever device we were last charging.  I used to say that one can never have enough freezer space … now it is enough 12 volt chargers!  A quick food shop turned into a long queue to pay (a chat with well a travelled local couple who are convinced that Cameron and the Euro vote will break up Europe), followed by a coffee and cake.  We drove from Lequile along the motorway, bypassing Brindisi… neither of our guide books inspired us to stop for the sights and one talked about the pick pockets.  As we approached Ostuni, we both got a sense of excitement … one of those times when the guide books do not do it enough justice.  It glowed white on top of a hill.  j experienced the usual small hill town driving panic, however, the car park was well roasted and on our side of town.  The car park even has services and is only a short walk up to the old hill town. 


The empty car park looking up to the old town.

We were looking for a cafe or bar with wifi so we could upload a couple of blog posts and check emails … and found a bar fairly early on …. the wine was delicious and so were the copious and regularly refilled bowls of salty snacks … three glasses each later we staggered around the town.  It was dark by now, but the town glowed with all the lime washed buildings … it is called the Citta Bianca.  Lots of really narrow walkways, steps up to front doors and bars and restaurants.  The guide books do not really make enough of it as it is definitely worth a visit.  We made it back to Chard and had a healthy salad for supper to compensate for the salty carbs.


A short walk up to the Piazza della Liberta.


A chic white town … ‘corse it has to have the black stuff!






Our car park was virtually empty …. but at 9.00 p.m. it started filling up.  At 11.00 p.m. cars were still arriving and having to park on the road.  Ostuni is party town on a Saturday night … the guide book describe it as ‘rather chic’ … a lot of the bars were really modern inside their cave like exteriors … all leather poofs and chrome.  Us Brits tried to sleep as people arrived, partied and left.


293 – Sunday 7th February 2016:  Lunch in Locorotondo

Being rather hilly and having run a longish one yesterday we did only 2 km.  A little steep at the start, but K was especially slow as I kept stopping to take pix!  

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Another use of plastic bottles … pear juice this time.

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It really is the Citta Bianca sitting on it rocky hill.

The car park had services which we used.  The water point was only just reachable with our 5m hose, but it must be good water.  There was a steady stream of locals filling up here.  One couple who spoke some English advised us that it was really good water for making coffee and pasta … two of the three Italian priorities.  The third being football!

We ignored both Brad and Madge, who in their lack of wisdom wanted to take us through the town and under a narrow and shallow bridge we had run past.  We still ended up driving a narrowish road out of the town towards a fuel station … J’s manoevring skills tested, as well as his nerve!  A really pretty route along to Locorotondo … we had decided not to stop at Cisternino as the guide book did not say much about it.  We started seeing the Trulli houses regularly along the road … 

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Like small mushrooms … some have the original round base, others have been extended.

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A few had symbols painted on the roofs.


Some in original form, used as farm buildings.


Only one about turn as we initially decided against the route both GPS suggested and then ended up down it anyway … we should listen to the navigating pair sometimes!  We had identified two possible parkings, but was we came close the town kindly signposted us to motorhome parking, the town side of the stadium.  We decided to stay the night and have Sunday lunch in the village.  We wandered the village first … nothing like as striking as Ostuni, but lots of white wash again…



And another beautifully carved Church rose window.

We lunched at a reaturant in the old town … the menu really did not make sense to us, so we went for the set menu … a veritable meat fest.  Starter of two types of salami (one was particularly melt in the mouth), followed by a mixed grill … actually three meats finished off in the wood pizza oven. A speciality of the area is the roasted and grilled meats; you can order your meat in a butcher and then they will cook it for you.   A mix of pastries for dessert.  Not a vegetable in sight!  We stepped into the cafe by the parking, which was full of locals dining (we’d walked past earlier but thought it was just a cafe) and had a coffee and a Sambucca …. followed by a many nap!!!


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The view through the windscreen in the rain as we left Locorotondo …. sitting up above terraces.







290-291: Otranto & Lecce: Extreme East of Peninsula and Extreme Baroque Architecure

290 – Thursday 4th February 2016:  Otranto – Most Easterly Italian Point

We left the Agricamping EUR50 lighter … rather steep at EUR20 per night, but we made good use of the facilities (hot showers – note the plural! and heating on at will!).  For the mathematicians amongst you 2 x 20 does not equal 50 … the additional 10 was for the husband / mechanic / taxi driver who replaced our head lamp bulb.

We drove to Marina di Leuca with the intention of having a quick walk and a coffee at the most southerly point of the heel, but failed to find a parking so got out of there and followed the coast north.  As we approached Tricase Porto … men chatting on side of road / easy parking / and a ristorante … coffee time.  One of the chaps kindly hollered into the restaurant, so that the chef came out to make us coffee.  Had it been a bit later in the day, we may have been tempted to stop for lunch as it was a) cheap and b) an attractive menu and c) a locals’ place.

Another act of kindness was when we were road blocked with a lorry uploading choppings off olive trees … he gave us a dismissive hand wave to say ‘Find another route’.  But a local driver stopped and approached us … with a few words of French and some more friendly hand gestures, we were to follow him.  A 5 minute detour through a village and further instructions and then we back on route.

The scenery along this eastern side of the heel is much more interesting than the west of the toe and the instep.  Cliffs, rocky outcrops, small bays, lots of stone towers and extensive olive groves.  A new feature is the small round stone squat towers – the ground is so rocky here that local stone is extensively used to terrace the olives and make these towers, which look to be used for storage.  There are also some Italian equivalents of Pill Boxes, concrete WW2 defences.

We parked up in Otranto by the harbour (no other motorhomes in sight) but it was right next to stairs leading to the centro storico.  Interesting old town – beautiful cathedral – magnificent ceiling – and the skulls/bones of the 800 residents who refused to renounce Christianity – then killed by the Turkish invaders. The crypt is very impressive – most unexpected – a completely separate church.

Third act of kindness today was the enthusiastic TIC chappie, who pressed leaflets on us.

We had a nice glass of local wine – “does the fat dog…?” Sorry Amelia – I couldn’t resist !

We retired to our casa for the evening… the wind blew strongly during the night – not as bad as Castlemare del Gusto (renamed by K after our windy night there…..) But not a great nights sleep – we moved the van at about 7:30 am – much better – but too late for slumber….


View from old town will … you can just spot Chardonnay.  This port used to be the main port to the Orient for a thousand years … there were are few small naval vessels to give it kudos.


Duomo ceiling was amazing … just like a wedding gift dinner service … and very unusual.




This mosaic was first built by the Normans in the 11th Century and has since received face lift or two.  The creator was a young monk who designed this fanciful vision of the tree of life, encompassing heaven and hell, lewdness and symbolism.  It is amazing that it survived at all, as the invading Turks stables their horses here!


A small chapel to the right of the main alter houses cupboards of bones … in 1480 during the ‘Sack of Otranto’ 18,000 Turks besieged the town and killed the 800 Christians who refused to denounce their faith.  These are their bones.  Not gruesome, but a tribute to them.  


The crypt under the main church with its frescos and columns.


The old town walls with many Torre and Porte.  All pedestrianised inside.


As we returned to Chardonnay, the sky became stormy, but no rain 🙂

291 – Friday 5th February 2016: Martano and Lecce

we are now lean and mean athletes (here the reader needs a modicum of imagination) – so off for a rusty gun – sorry, gusty run!  2 kinometres later, we raced (?) across the finish line and gratefully accepted our prize – brekkie!

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K trailing, as ever!, a quick whip out of the iPhone to catch a shot of the run around the old town walls and J disappearing!

Avoiding the picturesque coastal route due to more high winds, we went inland and stopped at Martano (not in the guide books but recommended by a chap in the Otranto Tourist Office).

We parked next to the new TIC and it did not look open … leaves and rubbish blown up against the door.  But no … a young girl, wrapped up in woollens and beret, ransacked her cupboards for a town map …  not to be found so we photographed the one on the wall, which she would have pressed on us.  We suspect we were her only customers for the day …

A nice town – wandering along, we came across a 17th century (my guess – no carbon dating) imposing building – now these are invariably Palazzos or Museos or even convents (Sion Hill, Amelia?).  This one – on closer inspection, was/is called “Morrisons” (not a northern English supermarket) – but (wait for it) – an Irish pub! Complete with Guiness signs, etc – see photo.


Possibly the most interesting sight in Martano?


Coffee and cake, of course!


We would have course walked on by, even had it been open!!!

Lecce – next – or as Brad calls it – “Lex”. The parking app led us to a (Forum recommended) motorhome stop in the city centre – now a building site! We parked in another car park nearby – and perambulated (that word, again…)  Lecce is known for it’s extreme Baroque buildings – it did not disappoint!  40 churches – K wanted to pray in each one – but I heroically dissuaded her!  Lunch – antipasto shared – delicious dishes – glass of vino for J – Euro equivalent of £13!  Will we afford living for the summer in UK/Ireland ?

Coastal bound for the overnight bivouac – parked at San Cataldo – “grande gusto windo” – doesn’t quite work – but you get the picture. Moved to a side road – not totally satisfactory – on the road again – destination Lequile – a very quiet car park – no gustos! Settled – Irish Times Simplex crossword – 1 across – anagram “drab” – it’s our very own “Brad”!  Try creating an anagram for Marge?  Answers on the postcard again…..


Sorry, just love these Baroque balconies.  Each is so different.


Pedestrionised and mellow local stone … apparently it is perfect as it is soft on carving and then hardens off.


The Duomo Piazza.  Apparently residents used to barricade themselves in here when the town was under siege.


Boobs or oranges?  All a bit fruity!


Yours for EUR12 for 2 people … yum yum.


Basilica di Santa Croche … opulence gone mad.  


Being restored, but such amazing detail.


Part of the Rose window.


Madcap Baroque … love it!